New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped last week and the number of Americans on jobless rolls fell back to levels last seen in 1973, suggesting a further tightening in labor market conditions.
A strong labor market and robust economy likely keep the Federal Reserve on course to increase interest rates again in December. The U.S. central bank raised rates in September for the third time this year and removed the reference to monetary policy remaining "accommodative."
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 210,000 for the week ended Oct. 13, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims fell to 202,000 during the week ended Sept. 15, which was the lowest level since November 1969.